Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. Hepatitis A is more common in developing countries where the sanitary conditions are poor and untreated water is abundant. Most people who have hepatitis A in the UK are those who have returned from overseas.
Hepatitis A is an acute infection which means that people usually recover from it quickly, but as an acute infection, it can cause severe liver damage in rare cases.
A study suggests that Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted through anal sex because the virus can be found in the faeces of infected people. The most common route is via contaminated food and water. However sharing needles and broken skin contact with an infected person is also a high risk.
Like most STIs, the person infected is unlikely to present with any specific symptoms which vary from a flu-like illness, weakness, tiredness, fever, nausea, headache, vomiting, and jaundice: yellowing of the skin and/or eyes. (In jaundice, the liver is unable to remove bilirubin from the blood.)
Hepatitis A if not treated for a long time can result in an increased risk of contracting HIV and/or other STIs during sexual intercourse with an infected person. Chronic hepatitis A can also lead to liver cancer, so we recommend regular testing for hepatitis A especially if you have multiple sexual partners and start a treatment plan as necessary.
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You can get tested for Hepatitis A at Sexual Health Clinic as part of our hepatitis screening. Hepatitis A test requires only a small amount of blood. The sample can be used to detect other STIs, including a full sexual health screen.
There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A however there are lifestyle changes which we would recommend in its early stage:
Following this advice will help you to recover within a few weeks. However once you have contracted Hepatitis A it is important to monitor the progress of your status to avoid any development to the chronic stage.
You can be vaccinated against hepatitis A. The vaccine is completely safe and give life-long protection. If you have previously had and recovered from Hepatitis, you will also have life-long immunity against the virus.
At Sexual Health Clinic, we have a team of sexual health professionals who are always available to help you. You can have a consultation with one of our doctors who you will be able to talk to completely confidentially and sensitivity about your sexual health concerns; he/she will give you professional advice and recommend the testing which suits your personal circumstances and budget.
We can also arrange for a home testing kit to be delivered to you if you do not wish to visit our clinic.